The Mitsubishi Outlander plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) finally made its North American debut at NYIAS 2016. For an SUV that has been Europe’s best-selling electrified model, it was not a moment too soon. Then again, the automaker remained mum about all-electric range, approximate fuel economy, pricing, and a precise release date at the New York showcase. So maybe the reveal was actually ahead of schedule.
In terms of styling and dimensions, Outlander PHEV shares
much everything in common with the gasoline-powered model that hit the U.S. market in July 2015. As for the powertrain, it will run off a 2.0-liter gas engine with twin electric motors using juice from a 12 kWh battery pack, allowing for a four-wheel-drive experience that has been lacking on lower-end plug-in vehicles. So this model continues to have a clear purpose and audience in the U.S. market.
According to Don Swearingen, executive VP at Mitsubishi Motors North America, it will offer “a high electric range and combined miles per gallon (MPG),” but that was as specific as the automaker’s reps would get about EV mode. Meanwhile, Outlander PHEV’s release date got quietly pushed back to the fall. As recently as January, it was slated to appear in August, which was a delay from the previously ETA of “spring” 2016.
For a car that was originally expected to arrive in America in 2014, this is par for the course. (Pricing, which usually comes closer to launch, was not disclosed.) However, it was somewhat puzzling that Mitsubishi didn’t provide an estimated economy or electric range after such a lengthy build-up to this debut.
We have performance numbers from overseas that are worth a look. On the European testing cycle, Outlander PHEV is estimated at 32 miles and an absurd 156 miles per gallon in electric mode. That figure is expected to land somewhere in the low 20s when using the conversion of other vehicles as a guide. Economy is anyone’s guess, but over 80 MPGe is possible.
BMW’s X5 xDrive 40e, a utility plug-in currently available in America, gets 14 miles on electric power (56 MPGe) using a 9 kwh battery pack. Volvo’s XC90 T8, another similar model, gets an estimated 14 miles as an EV along with 53 MPGe with a 9.2 kWh battery at its disposal. The plug-in Outlander’s 12 kWh pack should allow it to best both vehicles in green driving.
However, the exact numbers will remain cause for speculation in the coming months. As for the potential of this model in America, it certainly looks like a hit in the making. In Europe last year, Outlander PHEV sales of 31,214 were 57% higher than its 2014 numbers. Volkswagen Golf GTE, the second place finisher, trailed by 14,000 units at 17,300 sales. There are no givens here, but we’re guessing U.S. sales data will start coming in by the end of the year.